I’m on the train to London for today’s workshop on ‘creating a mobile and social learning culture in your organisation’. It’s early. Earlier than i like, but on the plus side, beautiful views of the sunrise through the trees in the New Forest. And it’s an exciting day: a chance to collaborate within my community, to share, to learn. But first: to curate.
Events like this are somewhat akin to journalism: you trawl the facts, carry out the interviews, then write the story. I’m trying to write one coherent narrative through the subject, trawling through all the possible elements that i could use.
The co-creation of meaning is in, but scaffolding social learning is out. The triumvirate of mobile learning made the cut, but on this occasion i won’t be covering either learning methodology or the languages of learning. At least, it’s not on the agenda, but that doesn’t mean we won’t visit it in passing. I do have a habit of wandering.
And i’m a little nervous: not about presenting, but about the feedback from my peers. Different people within the room know more about many of these individual elements than i do. That’s where the collaboration comes in, that’s how the community functions: that’s how i learn. My role is to present a story, theirs is to engage with it, contribute, challenge, strengthen and reflect it. Together, we create a joint narrative of the learning.
Curation is about taking often disparate elements and weaving them into a whole. You can’t throw everything in, there’s a need to be selective: you can ask the attendees how successful i am at that. It’s a storytelling exercise, but a collaborative one.
I do find that one of the most useful parts of the whole exercise is spotting the gaps in my work, the spaces where my thinking is incomplete, weak or missing entirely. I use the blog as a kind of memory, what Harold Jarche calls his external brain. But there are gaps and the process of curating a workshop lets me spot them and, subsequently, try to address them. When i worked in museums, we produced exhibitions: stories that we told on the back of collections of artefacts. You had to choose which exhibits to include, which to leave behind. Some things look great, beautiful, impressive, but have little meaning within the story. Others would be dull, small, bland, but significant because of associated, imbued meaning. Those are the ones you chose (but maybe with one or two of the glamorous ones too: it is, after all, a show, it’s about engagement).
So my role today is part ringmaster, part curator, part storyteller and part learner. All valuable in developing my internal and external understanding. All valuable for learning.